Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

Australian Labor Party pledges billions to senior dental care

MELBOURNE, Australia: The standard of oral health in Australia is well below that in many parts of the Western world, with one report showing that 90 per cent of all Australians have experienced dental caries of some kind. On Saturday, 18 May, Australian voters will head to the booths to elect a government for the following four years and Bill Shorten, leader of the Labor Party, has announced that, if he wins, his party will invest A$2.4 billion in seniors’ dental care.

With some of the most at-risk patients being the elderly, the new plan could be significant in helping many people. The plan, unveiled as one of the healthcare pillars of the party’s election platform, will provide extra funding of A$1,000 per person every two years, and will come into force from 1 July 2020, should Labor win the election. To ensure freedom of choice, the plan will allow individuals to use their allocated funding through either their chosen private dentist or public dental services.

Speaking about the announcement, Australian Dental Association (ADA) President Dr Carmelo Bonanno said, “The ADA has been raising concerns about oral and dental care for older Australians for many years through the Australian Dental Health Plan and in our budget submissions.”

However, while the announcement was welcomed by the ADA, Bonanno also noted that it was important that the Labor government worked with them to ensure the best possible outcome. “While we support this funding announcement, it is critically important that a Labor government works with the ADA in developing the finer details of the policy as there are a number of issues that need to be addressed to ensure a smooth implementation and greatest uptake of the scheme,” he explained.

Other areas within the healthcare sector to receive attention include childcare and childhood education. The Labor Party intends spending A$4 billion on making childcare cheaper and has plans to increase childhood educators’ pay by 20 per cent.

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DT Asia Pacific No. 5, 2019

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